Smith's three quick strikes put Australia on top

London, July 19 (IANS) Ian Bell continued his impressive form as he struck his third consecutive Ashes century but leggie Steve Smith pulled back things in favour of Australia with his three quick strikes in the last hour on the first day of the second Test at the Lord's here Thursday.

Australia, who were struck hard by reports of rift between Michael Clarke and Shane Watson, put up an unified show and made England suffer in the first and the last hour. In the middle session, Bell (109) did the scoring while Jonathan Trott (58) and Jonathan Bairtsow (67) also contributed half-centuries to the home side's cause.

At stumps, Tim Bresnan was batting on seven with James Anderson on two after Smith's late three-wicket burst saw England slip from 271-4 to 289-7 at close of play.

England, opting to bat first, were reduced to 28 for three in the first six overs as the recalled Ryan Harris ( 3-43) made an instant impact.

But it was the surprise introduction of Watson in the sixth over that did the trick as England lost three wickets in a space of 10 balls.

Watson, who took 5-40 against Pakistan at Lord's in 2010, trapped a tentative Alastair Cook (12) lbw on the crease with his second ball. Harris got rid of Joe Root ( 6) and Kevin Pietersen (2).

Root reviewed the lbw verdict and the 'Hotspot' revealed contact with the bat, there was no evidence that it had taken place before ball hit pad. Pietersen got off the mark with a thick inside edge for two runs but was dismissed in the final delivery of Harris' over, wicketkeeper Brad Haddin taking the catch from a thin edge.

Bell was then involved in two crucial partnerships, 99 with Trott and 144 with Bairstow, that gave England a decent total before Smith removed Bell, Bairstow and Matt Prior with his leg-spin to put the tourists firmly in the seat in the evening session.

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